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Let’s imagine the following scenario. You’ve finally made yourself read that textbook for tomorrow’s class. As you’ve read several pages you realize that you can’t recall anything of it. Why did it happen and is there a way to avoid this experience? Many students face this problem and have to reread the same material for several times to understand and memorize it.

As you might guess, it is not the most effective method of getting prepared for a class. The reason for an inattentive reading might be the lack of concentration. Or a student can struggle to understand the main idea of a text. SQ3R reading and note-taking method can help you in both cases.

What is SQ3R?

SQ3R is an acronym for an effective reading technique that helps you increase your productivity. The problem with reading material on an unfamiliar topic is that you seem to have understood the main points but within a few hours that knowledge fades away for some reason.

It’s because just reading a text is not enough. Using an SQ3R method you make sure that you’ve really grasped the meaning of a text and can explain it to someone else. So, how does it work?

How to Use It

As we’ve found out, SQ3R is an acronym and every letter implies a specific stage of the reading process. You would think that the first thing you need to do is simply start reading a textbook but it’s not the best approach. This method suggests that you should start with skimming through the text.

S – Skim

Look through the text you need to read and pay attention to the subheadings, tables, diagrams, etc. Doing so will give you the idea of what are you going to read about. If you are not completely unfamiliar with this particular topic, it will trigger some background information that can help you while reading.

Q – Question

As you notice some new terms and diagrams, write down the questions this text will have the answers to. Even if a reading assignment is too boring, these questions will help you stay focused.

R1 – Read

At this point, your goal is to find the answers to the questions you’ve written down. It is a more effective approach than a passive reading as you concentrate on the key aspects and don’t get distracted by the unnecessary information.

R2 – Recite

Imagine that you need to tell a friend about everything you’ve just read using your own words. When you do this exercise, you memorize the material faster and get a better understanding of it. If you notice that some of the points seem more difficult to explain, read the corresponding passages again.

R3 – Review

Read through the notes, highlight the most important points, and maybe even take some additional notes. To make sure it will be easier for you to remember this information in the future, share it with a friend. Tell them about what you’ve learned and you will be surprised by how good you’ve remembered the text.

SQ3R Example

To give you an idea of how this method works, let’s look at a Wikipedia article dedicated to the human development.

When you skim through the article, you notice that it will cover some information about the general aspects of development, its physical stages, terms that specify one’s age in numbers, etc. Now you have the idea of what you will learn from this text. If you start recalling the information you got in class from your biology teacher, you will have some background information before even starting to read the article.

It’s time to ask some questions. Yours might look something like this:

  • What is this article about?
  • What are the physical stages of the human development?
  • What do the terms like blastocyst, zygote, embryo mean?

And so on.

Answer the questions while reading the article.

Once you have your notes ready, you can easily recite the information. Review the article and think if there is something else you can add to your notes that you might have missed.

Is It Effective?

Now that you know how to use this method, you might want to have some proofs of its effectiveness. Is it really a better way of reading textbooks and taking notes? Well, there was a research with the goal to find all about out it. According to its results, this approach was superior for total reading performance. It is safe to say that you will benefit from incorporating this technique into your studying process.

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